I have had just days of holding the miracle inside. I have had miscarriages. I have had moments of sitting in the midst of baby world (OBGYN offices) where I thought I might either pitch a fit on the floor or grab a baby and RUN! And I have had restoration from some of the deepest pain and rejection I have walked through.
From the time I was a small girl, I knew I wanted to be a mother. I walked around "feeding" my babies on my tiny ant bites of boobs. I fed them three times a day. Thankfully... they were plastic and survived the absence of nutrition. But they were loved... and my desire to be a mommy was fed and grew... the desire to nurture, to give life to, and to love.
You know that moment... that moment where you and your husband decide to have a baby? Yeah. We arrived there shortly after 9-11 and the TRYING began. At first it was fun. I mean really... lots of "that" was fun. And the hope that we were creating life added a sweetness that was seriously cool. But month after month, period after period, the coolness began to fade. I started reading books, making "cute" little charts and bought THE thermometer. Dots started being added to my chart and sex started becoming a monitored, timely, and desperate act to MAKE something happen. Sadness. Not so cool.
On one occasion, I was two weeks late. I had been making myself wait until the two weeks late mark to take a test... as I was often late. We should have purchased stock in E.P.T. sticks! We'd be set for life. But we didn't. I decided I was late enough... said a prayer... peed on the stick and I left the bathroom. I walked the well worn path up and down my hallway. I pleaded with the Lord. I begged. My heart beat quickly as I thought, "This is it... I know this is it." I had been feeling not so great in the mornings and my boobs were, well, SORE. I waited a whole ten minutes even though the box asked for just two. I wanted to be REAL sure that extra little pink line had time to come bursting forth.
I walked into the bathroom... and I reached for it. There it was. One line. Again. One Line. One line of rejection... simply present as if it had no idea what kind of blow it had just made to my heart... my spirit... my entire being.
I THREW it in the trash can and started sobbing. Wailing. I was so mad at myself for allowing hope and I was so mad at God... for keeping the gift. And then I started stomping. I remember stomping my foot into the floor so hard... it felt like it was on fire. Stomping was followed with yelling... crying out... WHY... WHY...WHY NOT? WHY NOT ME? WHY NO? WHY NO AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? WHY AM I NOT WORTHY? WHY DID YOU GIVE ME A HEART TO BE A MOTHER? WHY WON'T MY BODY DO WHAT YOU MADE IT TO DO? WHY???????????? WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME????????????
So then I didn't want to have sex anymore. (TMI alert) I just saw it as further rejection. Not from my husband by any means... but from God. Feeling rejected from God is some seriously deep rejection. And it is a lie. It is a lie orchestrated to wound us so deep... so very deep. With every moment of intimacy came the question and slight whisper of hope... and then each monthly period brought the sting... again... "you are a failure."
I felt rejected by my own body. I felt betrayed by the very meaning of "woman." I felt worthless.
I had never even thought about fertility problems. It had never crossed my mind. I was the oldest of five... and I was going to have six. That was the plan... my plan.
But God knew. He saw it. He thought about it. And He did something so very sweet. He gave me the heart for adoption in the tenth grade. He stamped it right on my heart and planted the seed deep. So His water came to bring it forth and I remembered... I saw it like it had happened that very day.
I was 16 years old. My economic class required us to write summaries on current events on Fridays. "TIME" and "Newsweek" magazines were passed from person to person throughout the day as we scanned articles during study hall. I was handed a magazine at my locker and sped off to class... as if it was any other Friday.
As I looked through the magazine, the pages opened and my heart skipped 20 beats as horror rolled through me like waves of an angry ocean. It was a two page photograph. The bottom half of the photo was a street. In the middle... a sidewalk with a bicycle rolling past, the bottom half of a woman sweeping out the doorway of her store front, and legs of people walking by. There were no faces. Yet in the bottom right corner... there was a little body... a tiny naked body of a newborn baby girl... laying dead in the gutter... right there... right... there. And life was going on all around her. No one stopped for her.
Tears started flowing and the story entwined me with rage and fury. Baby girls were being killed in China in mass number because residents were allowed one child and everyone wanted a boy. The horror stole my breath as I read about midwives drowning baby girls in buckets seconds after being born, smothering them with pillows, and even worse. I went to the teacher's desk gripping this magazine in anger. "Does our President know this is going on!?" I asked in complete innocence of the darkness that grips so much of this world. He glanced at the article and then back to me and answered simply, "Yes." I walked back to my desk in total disbelief. How in the world can people in authority know this is going on and do nothing about it?
I stared at that picture... forever etching it on my mind... and I decided right there... right then... I would save one. I knew I could not save them all. But I knew I could save one. And adoption became part of my tapestry. God knew. God had a plan. A mighty plan.
As I remembered this moment, I began to think that God wanted to us adopt first. I had always imagined we would have a couple children and then adopt. But I started thinking God wanted to reverse my plan... adopt first.
I started researching adoption online and we were led to the agency that led us to Abby. As she walked around the corner of the hallway in the orphanage... my answer came. "WHY... WHY...WHY?" echoed in my memory and the sting in my heart erupted into joy and the answer spoke so loudly... "THIS IS WHY." As she bravely walked towards me, turned around and sat in my lap.. the weight of her little body caught me so off guard.. the weight of her presence... the realness of the child God had placed on my heart when I was 16 years old. This child was alive the very day I stomped my foot... and cried aloud in disappointment. She was here. She had been given to me. She had just sat down in my lap... clutching cookies in each hand. Abigail... "Her Father's joy." Abigail Grace... "by His grace He led her to us."
Restoration was in process... but not complete. After Abby, there was another miscarriage. After Abby, there was more pain and feelings of failure. I still held on ever so slightly to the "you'll get pregnant after you adopt," comments. But it never came... the baby bump... the baby belly... the baby.
I sat in the OBGYN's office... in the midst of that baby sea. There were women with babies in arm, stroller, and belly. There were kids with baby in belly and grandmothers on arm. There were couples sitting in that glow of beaming love with baby in belly. And I sat there... empty... barren... crusty and dried up... as I like to call it. This particular time I was just overcome with it... the "screaming emptiness" of it... the "rejection to the club" of it... the failure of it. I thought I might explode.
My name was called, praise the LORD, and I ran to the back room. Broken. I was broken. My body was broken. My heart was broken. My hope was broken. My dream was broken. My doctor came in... and she held me. The Father's arms held me. And I let it go. I let go of the hope. I let go of the pain. I let go of the fake happiness I wore as friends announced their second, third, fourth, and even fifth pregnancies. I let go of the hope of a baby belly. I let it go. I let it go. All of it...
And the emptiness was replaced with His love and affirmation: "I have chosen you to be a mother to the motherless... your womb has never been and will never be empty... it overflows with life you give to children for Me. I have called you to this... to adoption... to child advocacy... they will know My love through you... I love them that much... and I trust you that much. I have given you my heart for them and you give them My love... you give them Me!"
I was restored.
My heart, my womb, my body, my "woman-ness", my purpose... restored.
I have never felt pain or faked happiness at the announcement of another pregnancy since. I have never seen a baby belly and been struck with sadness since. I have never felt like I was drowning in the OBGYN's office since.
I overflow with joy as child after child find their forever family through the calling God has given me. I rejoice as my husband shares that calling. I am deeply touched as I look at our family and see God's hand on every single moment of every single child. I am humbled to my face as I watch hope given to others through the life of this barren yet restored woman... this mother.
And I am encouraged to know that when I can not see clearly, my Father can and does. And He is in control. And He is good, faithful, loving, patient, and sovereign!
As I look at my life and see several areas where I still need restoration, I praise Him and am encouraged in remembering the gift of this one. It did not happen over night. It was hard. The journey was hard and often ugly. But that allows restoration to be all the more beautiful!
Be encouraged sweet friends. Our Father is the Master Restorer and is always working on us! And we are in GOOD HANDS!